A Surrey-based minor pro basketball team won a league championship for Newton teen Raphael Alcoreza on Sunday afternoon (July 8).
Vancouver Dragons were victorious in the final game of the Minor League Basketball Association’s inaugural season in the gym at Panorama Ridge Secondary, where Alcoreza played basketball until his death late last year.
Alcoreza, a six-foot-one guard with the school’s Thunder team, died in hospital Dec. 7 after collapsing during a game at Holy Cross Regional High School the previous week.
“We said at the start of the season that we were playing for Raph, and that’s what we did, we won it for him today,” head coach Dikran Zabunyan said following his squad’s 111-107 win over Oklahoma City Outlaws in Sunday’s championship game.
Around 100 spectators watched the final, which followed a pair of semifinal games played Saturday (July 7).
Zabunyan praised his players as a talented, hard-working and dedicated group, led in scoring Sunday by guard Demitri Harris, who had 24 points in the entertaining, back-and-forth final.
The Outlaws dressed only six players for the game, and the Dragons outpaced them with 12.
“We wore them down, and they got tired,” Zabunyan noted.
The Dragons won the MLBA championship trophy in the league’s first year of existence, and boasted a record of 12 wins and one loss heading into the Final Four playoff weekend at the school in Newton.
They suffered their only loss of the season against Quad City Flames back on May 26.
The Dragons began their season at Trinity Western University’s David E. Enarson Centre but later moved to Tamanawis Secondary’s gym due to scheduling conflicts.
Team owners want to build and operate a basketball-focused stadium/complex in Surrey. Next season, they plan to return to Tamanawis for home games, majority owner T.J. Dhinsa told the Now-Leader on Sunday.
The two other teams in the MLBA’s weekend playoff were Arkansas Bobcats and Huntsville Force.
To reach the final, the Dragons bounced the Bobcats on Saturday by a score of 120-88.